Everything has changed. The desire for healthy, sustainable products has gone from do-gooder wishful thinking to a must. New longings and visions are demanding to fulfilled. In the recently published Food Report 2022, the well-known nutritionist and food trend researcher Hanni Rützler illustrates where we are headed on this journey.
Hanni Rützler has been studying the development of the food and gastronomy industry for 25 years. Her annual Food Report is now on its ninth edition. The Food Report 2022, available in English for the first time, encourages bold new approaches and shares the essential know-how. It is published by the think tank Zukunftsinstitut, in cooperation with the dfv Mediengruppe’s trade publications Lebensmittel Zeitung, gv-praxis and foodservice.
In the new report, Hanni Rützler starts from a completely new place. “The new normal” is a universe of paradigm shifts, where values such as health, hygiene and safety, as well as topics like ethics and fairness, have shifted into focus. “We should take a fresh look at the emergency solutions we came up with during the crisis, because they just might viable concepts for the future,” the report says. Rüttler calls this “forced changes, desired results.” This has changed consumer and eating behavior as much as the new understanding of healthy eating, which Rützler sums up with the catchy phrase “good food, good mood.” In other words, a healthy diet must always be healthy for the environment as well. According to Rützler, three central trends have emerged as a result of this new normal.
Zero waste is the first of the three trends; it is the catch phrase of many concepts, from cradle-to-cradle philosophy to the sharing economy, that reduce waste to zero. According to the study, consumers developed a whole new taste for sustainable consumption during the Corona crisis, citing the growing popularity of non-packaging stores and leftover apps, as well as other examples. At Upprinting Food, a food printer even turns food scraps into crunchy snacks!
Another trend highlighted by the study is a culinary paradox: Although regionality is valued and has become even more important during Corona, at the same time, the lockdowns have stirred a longing for culinary discoveries and to indulge in exotic delights. The trend is moving towards local exotics, which help reconcile this contradiction. The report includes exotic fruits grown in Germany as well as forgotten vegetables like broad beans and old breeds of animals like the Turopolje pig, which were common in the past but now seem quite exotic. So-called aquaponics farms also produce exotic foods using a circular economy made up of plant cultivation and fish farming. What’s more, the Mongolian yak is now being bred in Austria’s Waldviertel region!
Variety is king and ensures a healthy diet, which has become even more important given the threat posed by the pandemic. In the future, this will concern not only our own health, but also that of the planet. Reducing meat consumption, which is questionable from both ethical and climate standpoints, is therefore something an increasing number of people are concerned about – and this is giving rise to another trend. Whereas flexitarians have been in the spotlight up to now, the significance of omnivores, or rather “real omnivores,” is emerging. Rather than focusing on leaving out certain foods, they opt for a culinary openness, including non-traditional foods such as offal, in-vitro meat, insects or algae.
So much for the major trends. In the Food Report, Hanni Rützler also elaborates on other core ideas that will thoroughly transform the gastronomy and food industry as well as agriculture.
Post-Corona cuisine will have a lot more vegetables, the expert predicts. Vegetarian and vegan diets are more than mere hype; in fact, they have become even more mainstream during the crisis. According to the report, plant-based dishes will be included in every good restaurant in the future, and will become more attractive to omnivores as well. The first vegan cooking school is opening in the UK. Popular fast food chains are opting for meat-free products. As Ona restaurant in France proves, even vegan star gastronomy has become possible.
For a long time, to-go and delivery has dominated the gastronomy sector. Sales made via digital channels became the new normal. However, digitization not only affects sales, it also provides new ways to network, which creates new socio-cultural structures and allows a wide variety of parties to interact with each other in new ways. Examples include food sharing and farmer-owned marketing communities as well as online tastings and supply chain tracking. This new connectivity is fundamentally transforming food service, food production and agriculture; it is giving guests and consumers a new freedom of action, not to mention profoundly changing the way we cook and eat.
This trend is about to become major
A lot of exciting trends and movements definitely emerged during the crisis. But which ones, we asked Hanni Rützler, will really last? The researcher gave us a clear assessment:
“Plant-based food, i.e. the trend to use plant-based foods as the main ingredient in dishes is here to stay. Meat will play a secondary role – if at all – and this will particularly shape the gastronomy industry in the future. However, this doesn’t mean every restaurant will become vegetarian or vegan, but rather that vegetarian dishes will become the new normal. Gradually, the serving proportions of meat dishes will also change in favor of more culinarily appealing plant-based options. Although food trends like “brutally local” or “locally exotic” will continue to play an important, inspiring role, they are not mass-market ready and will therefore be limited to committed gastronomic niches.”